Hearing the age of a classic album can serve as a pretty mean punch in the face. Who wants to know that the gem of their youth, a record they grew up obsessed with, has turned 10, or 20, or 30? Nobody likes feeling old.
Well time to apply for your first pensioner’s card, because this one will hit you like a freight train stocked with a ton of bricks.
Rumours, the drama-studded dream pop masterpiece of Fleetwood Mac is turning 40 years old. On the 4th of February 1977 this iconic record hit the shelves, starting a four decade journey through every genre, sub-genre and experimental metagenre which has popped up since.
Somehow, it reigns supreme. No joke, it was the 5th best selling vinyl in Britain last year. It’s high time to celebrate this glorious mid life crisis, as we run through some things you didn’t know about.
Was it the drama, musicality, character or celebrity culture which made Rumours so iconic? Likely, all of the above.
“Shacking up is all you wanna do”
Stevie Nicks wasn’t a huge fan of the lyrics to the album’s most successful track Go Your Own Way. Obviously a song about yourself being the singer’s past paramour is never going to land well, but that doesn’t mean Nicks wasn’t vocal about it.
She called the lyrics “angry, nasty and extremely disrespectful.”
Rumours was obviously a successful record, one of the most successful ever, but the numbers it clocked up are simply staggering. It’s gone platinum 11 times in the UK and 20 in the states, hitting a cool average of just over one million sales per year since 1977, which is around 2500 copies every day.
What’s curious was an initial divide in the record’s success between it’s two main audiences. In the US Rumours held the number one spot on the charts for 31 weeks, while in the UK it managed… one.
A dynamite demo
It’s night impossible to think of Go Your Own Way with even the slightest difference – the song is on a level of familiarity up there with Here Comes The Sun or Smells Like Teen Spirit. It’s ingrained.
The first take of the track was surprisingly close to the last, with some choral layering, atmospheric instrumentals and some lyrics being the only difference. Buckingham’s aforementioned “Shacking up is all you wanna do” was nowhere to be heard in this early take.
While Rumours is nigh on your perfect album, it’s canonical status can be attributed in part to the extensive, soap-opera drama which surrounded it’s recording process.
A diagram of relationships between each of the band members, their lovers and even their spouses would look more like a spider web than any regular polygon.
However, the magic of Rumours was the anaesthetic effect it had on Fleetwood Mac’s tumultuous inner workings. While Nicks was known to glare at Buckingham between takes and sling insults like “Fuck you, asshole. You can go to hell”, there was an electricity in those recording rooms brought on by the record’s potential energy.
Later Mick Fleetwood explained it perfectly; comparing the situation to a divorced couple remaining united over the love of their kids.
“You break up but you want to do the right thing, not to hurt the children. The album was our baby. That’s what made an impossible thing possible.”
A standout feature of the album cover is the set of family jewels proudly draped between Fleetwood’s legs. Unless you had been privy to their live shows, you wouldn’t know that these had actually been a recurring element of his stage get-up for a number of years.
They’re actually a set of toilet chains Fleetwood nicked from a club where the band played one of their earliest gigs. He’s since lost them but don’t fear – he has a new pair of ‘lucky balls.’